Presidential Libraries & Museums
As we move through the 44th presidency and into the future of these United States of America, we should not forget those that came before and helped shape the country that we live in today. While visiting Overland Park and the surrounding area, take time to stop at these presidential libraries and museums and other political attractions.
Our 31st President, Herbert Clark Hoover, was born in West Branch (IA) on August 10, 1874. His birth town is now the site of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum, situated on the grounds of the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site. Visitors can tour President Hoover's birthplace cottage, a blacksmith shop, a Quaker meeting house and the gravesite of the President and Mrs. Hoover. In recent years, the Library-Museum has been transformed into a nationally recognized center for the study of twentieth-century history and the American presidency. It has sponsored major exhibits featuring personal memorabilia from every U.S. President and First Lady, a pioneering look at World War I, an unprecedented display of presidential gifts and exciting exhibits including the "Roaring Twenties," the Civil War, and other subjects of broad public appeal.
Gerald Rudolph Ford, 38th President, was born Leslie King, Jr. in Omaha (NE) on July 14, 1913. The Gerald R. Ford Birth Site and Gardens includes a kiosk modeled after the original house's turret that contains birth-site information and presidential mementos. A Rose Garden modeled after the White House's complete the site. Adjoining the site is the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, a regional center of the Nebraska State Historical Society. It provides conservation services for historical relics and a small exhibit of President Ford’s memorabilia.
Widely known as the president that dropped the atomic bomb in an attempt to end WWII, President Harry S. Truman is also remembered for his honesty and integrity. After leaving the White House, Truman, the 33rd President, returned to his home in Independence (MO) to write his memoirs and busied himself with the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum. Most of the 30,000 objects in the museum’s collection fall into one of five main categories: gifts to President and Mrs. Truman from foreign heads of state; gifts from private citizens; personal possessions of the family; political memorabilia; and objects associated with the historical events of his career. The President and Mrs. Truman are buried side by side in the Library’s courtyard.
Located nearby are some attractions of interest to both presidential history enthusiasts and casual visitors alike. The Jackson County Courthouse is where President Truman started his career in 1922 as a county judge. At the Truman Home see where they moved after their marriage and stayed for over 50 years. In the neighboring city of Grandview (MO), the Truman Family Farm was where he spent almost every waking hour for eleven years farming 600 acres of land.
The National World War I (WWI) Museum, opened December 2006, is built beneath the existing Liberty Memorial, a national historic landmark that overlooks the downtown skyline of Kansas City (MO). It is the first and only American museum solely dedicated to preserving the objects, history and personal experiences of WWI. The Museum’s collection of more than 50,000 objects uses the latest in interactive technology to tell the story of the war through the eyes and voices of those who lived it. Additionally, the Museum houses a Research Center with a comprehensive historical collection of WWI materials and is open to the public. During your visit, don’t miss one of the many educational programs offered at the National WWI Museum. From preeminent guest lecturers and authors to films set during the war’s era, patrons can acquire a better understanding of the Great War. The Liberty Memorial’s site was dedicated by the wartime leaders of five allied nations – General John J. Pershing of the United States, Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France, Admiral David Beatty of Great Britain, General Armando Diaz of Italy, and Lieutenant General Alfonse Jacques of Belgium. This was the only time in history that these leaders were together in one place. Liberty Memorial was dedicated in 1926 by President Calvin Coolidge.
Senator Bob Dole ran a failed campaign for president in 1996, but had previously served as a popular Kansas Congressman for 27 years. Shortly after the 1996 election, University of Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway approached Senator Dole with a proposal to entrust his congressional papers, accrued over his 35 years of public service, to KU – the university he attended before military service in WWII interrupted his studies. Senator Dole agreed and the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, in Lawrence (KS), was born as a non-partisan forum, dedicated to public service and training for leadership. Located in the Institute, the Dole Archive houses one of the Nation’s largest single collections of congressional papers with over 4,000 boxes of the Senator’s political and legislative documents.
Dwight David Eisenhower was an American general and the 34th President of the United States. Built by the Eisenhower Foundation, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum, in Abilene (KS), was constructed to house the materials and objects related to his life. The Museum is divided into five major areas. The Introductory Gallery provides an overview of President Eisenhower's life from his boyhood in Abilene to the end of World War II in 1945. The Temporary Gallery has exhibits which change periodically, and the Mamie Eisenhower Gallery exhibits Mamie’s life, emphasizing her role as First Lady. The Military Gallery features documents, photographs and objects that interpret the role of President Eisenhower as Supreme Commander and of those who served during WWII. Finally, the recently renovated Presidential Gallery details the history of the President Eisenhower’s administration, 1953-1961, and includes a 1950’s fallout shelter, the Plaza Theater marquee, a 1950’s living room, and a replica of his Gettysburg retirement office.
With a vast array of political attractions, now is the time to learn about where we have been as we move forward in 2010.